This article originally appeared on Live in the Now.
Don’t know what to eat for breakfast?
Well, you may want to grab a bowl of oatmeal.
Studies have shown that the daily consumption of a 70-gram bowl of oatmeal can lower your low-density lipoprotein (LDL) or “bad” cholesterol by 7 percent. According to Dr. George Grimble at the University College London in the U.K., that is equivalent to the LDL reduction produced by statins.
The difference is that oatmeal, which is full of protein and fiber, offers an array of health benefits, while statins increase the risk of serious diseases, including diabetes, cancer and neurodegenerative disorders due to the nerve-damaging properties of statins.
See also: 5 Things to Try Before Going on a Statin
For a healthy breakfast every morning, it’s hard to beat oatmeal. One bowl contains more fiber than a slice of whole grain bread, along with a rich supply of iron, copper, manganese and B vitamins.
Oats Lower Cholesterol Through Soluble Fiber
Oatmeal’s cholesterol-lowering benefits stem from its content of a form of soluble fiber called beta glucan in the oats. Although this type of fiber is found in rye and barley, it’s present in higher quantities in oats. Beta glucan has other health benefits that include the satiation of hunger, potential protection from cancer, and nourishment of the beneficial bacteria in your gut, an advantage that boosts immunity.
Forming a thick gel in the gut, beta glucan decreases the absorption of cholesterol and increases the secretion of bile salts. Because the bile salts are made of cholesterol, the more of them that your body eliminates, the more cholesterol is used to make new bile salts. Thus, the process lowers the circulating cholesterol in the blood.
A 2015 Harvard study published in JAMA Internal Medicine and a 2016 Harvard study published in Circulation found the consumption of whole grains like oats was associated with a lower premature death risk. These results build on earlier research that links the food to a reduced likelihood of cardiovascular disease, diabetes and other conditions.
Traditional Oatmeal Trumps Instant Oatmeal
How do the health benefits of instant oatmeal compare to those of traditional oatmeal?
Instant oats have a high glycemic index (GI), whereas old-fashioned and steel-cut oats have a low GI. High GI foods digest quickly, an effect that can cause blood sugar levels to spike, which over time, can lead to diabetes. Since the less processed varieties of oatmeal require a longer time to digest, they promote better blood sugar levels.
The additives in instant oatmeal pose another problem. Bulk oatmeal doesn’t contain other ingredients, but the instant variety has sugar, salt and other unwholesome ingredients that improve flavor and shelf life. Traditional oatmeal sweetened with a little raw honey is a much better choice.
Try Overnight Oats
Since time is limited in the morning, instant oatmeal may seem tempting. However, overnight oats can be quickly prepared the night before. Mix together equal parts of rolled oats with yogurt in a Mason jar or food storage container. You can also add a sliced banana or other fruit along with cinnamon and raw nuts for extra flavor. Allow the mixture to sit overnight or eight hours in the refrigerator to give it time for the grains to absorb all the liquid. In the morning, you can start your day right with this creamy delicious power breakfast.